Letter on Salisbury in response to Anatol Lieven

The Times
28 August 2008

This letter was written in response to a comment page article by the fine international analyst Anatol Lieven, who quoted Lord Salisbury as a source of advice for the present Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.

Salisbury was the author of splendid isolation which helped create the conditions leading to World War 1. He was an imperialist and racist. Lieven was writing from Pakistan and his writing on that country is well worth reading. He believes that we need no new conflicts and that Russia can help in the wider war against fundamendalist jihadi terrorism. I agree. But we do not sacrifice our principles nor do we sacrifice a country like Georgia as part of a new realgeopolitik. Russia faces challenges from terrorism and should seek to be a partner of Europe and the world’s democracies instead of unleashing this new Black Sea crisis.
Sir, I am not sure Anatol Lieven quoting Lord Salisbury, the author of splendid isolation, who told Parliament he would no more give a vote to the Irishman than he would to a “hottentot”, is the best example for David Miliband to be inspired by when he visits Ukraine.
Britain and the rest of Europe have to work out a policy to deal with a Russia that rejects European values and norms. Poland and the Baltic states have been told they could not join Nato or the EU because it might upset the Kremlin. But what is this new doctrine that holds a sovereign nation cannot decide what to do because it shares a border with Russia? Not for the first time, Russian tanks are in a country that does not want them there. Not for the last time, London pullulates with those who find excuses for the Kremlin’s behaviour.